9: Session 3 – Streams in the Woods
Again, these are real adventures for a real playgroup so I'm asking that they keep their eyeballs off until after we play them.
When we left our company they were in the woods to the Slate Hills, either in some state of disarray or riding pretty with all of their gear and some more besides… though the latter is more likely. The woods appear huge, but an Education 5 roll reveals that most of them don’t predate the fall of Tarmalania – they have sprung up in the places where the giant’s shadow has driven men from the land. If the company is taking the road from Brinder’s Gate to the Slate hills, skip the middle bit and jump right to the Goblin attack. Otherwise the company needs to find a path through the woods to the Slate Hills or up the coastline to Brinder’s Gate. An Education TN 5 will remind them that they have allies in the Slate Hills while Brinder’s Gate can be as unforgiving as the coastline to reach there, and arriving there without funds might lead them to a press gang.
The company likely has a limited amount of gear. It’s estimated to be 14 days on the good road to the Slate Hills, but in these woods, well, things are worse. The PCs lose a day of supplies for each missed Pathfinding roll until they find a route. Once the PCs are ‘out’ of supplies they’re actually on limited rations, surviving on what they can scrounge and hunt, and they have to start making Athletics (Endurance) checks per week. The woods are viable for this, more or less, with decent amount of small game and with an Athletics (Survival) TN of 5 for keeping limited rations the factor is more one of time and stamina.
If they do opt for Brinder’s Gate, its Education (Pathfinding) TN 10 to find a good route up the coast, it will take them 15 days to get there (8 days with a Pathfinding roll of 15). Once there it is a Lineage contest with a starting TN of 20 to get resupplied, while failure leads to being captured and bound to a ship heading still further north…and new GM-created scenarios to get back on track. Once resupplied you can assume they’re taking the toad west as if they’d made it to Brinder’s Gate normally and jump to the Goblin attack.
The Slate Hills are the most likely course. It’s a Pathfinding 10 to find a trail heading in the right direction where after 3 days they will find one of the old roads. Pathfinding 15 finds the old road right away. Once on the old road it is a week to the point where the old road intersects with the main road, putting them back to where they thought they’d be, and another week away from the Slate Hills.
In any event, by this point everyone should be on the main road, and begin to get the suspicion that they are being watched, day and night, from something in the woods. It’s unsettling, but there’s little they can do about it since there’s no sign of the actual culprits. The nightly shelters are where they ought to be, warded with runes on rocks at five points to keep the goblins out.
If the PCs think to fall into the habit of circling the shelter first they will see that one night one of the five rocks is marred – it looks like it was clawed by a bear. An Education (Runes) roll TN 25 will reinstate it, with effects discussed below.
That night the PCs are attacked by Goblins: there are 27 of them, and they’re armed with sleep venom on their shortbows, for a total TN of 25. There are 9 of them hidden inside the shelter behind a cunning concealed goblincraft door, so if the PCs reinstated the wards they only have to fight those 9, or if they’re not in the shelter they face 18 for the first exchange. The most likely thing for the PCs to do in the dark in the woods surrounded by goblins is surrender, though one or more should slip away. (Slipping away is Burglary 15, following after is Burglary 10)
The captured PCs are force marched (or made to drag their unconscious allies) back to the Goblin’s base, the stone remnants of a human city that fell 100 years ago. The wood goblins intend to question the PCs and then use them as slaves. The Goblins will take all of their key gear except the map (if the PCs are clever they’ll have dropped the valuable things for the escapees to pick up) and bring them to their leader, Zelor the large, son of Zegor the Canny, who will definitely recognize Halthastor if he sees it and have that PC whipped – though in so doing he will stop the questioning, which might be a good thing. If not he starts questioning the PCs, peppering them with questions about their allegiance with the naiads, the treaty between the dwarves and the people of Brinder’s Gate and other things that don’t exist to try to trick them into saying why they’re really there. Lineage TN 10 to hold ones tongue, but if anyone speaks he will immediately send a blood hawk to warn the giants. (Who will ignore this, but hey, the PCs don’t know that)
Assuming there is an escaped PC they can opt to attack during this sequence of events, or wait until the captives are locked up before their first day of work, or some other time. Moving at once is Burglary 20 to get into a good position to act, waiting until after the questioning/whipping is TN 15, waiting until the next day is TN 10. It never gets easier than 10 due to the guards, but waiting for 3 days after that gives the free PCs a chance to steal some supplies too (Burglary 10 for getting 1 days for everyone, 15 for 3). This is only possible because the Goblins don’t go out much during the day, and see poorly in it when they do, so the burglars have some freedom of movement.
Once the Company is freed it’s a TN 10 conflict to fight their way out, but then they have to make a run for it with Goblins on their tail and they’re nowhere near a shelter. Athletics 5 will keep the clear until dark, 10 for 1 hour of dark, 15 for 3, 20 for a whole night, rinse lather repeat. Pathfinding 5 will get them back to the road before middday, and from there Athletics 10 will get them to the next shelter, but that’s not a great solution as there’s no way out. The goblins will just surround them and wait. They will have to fight their way through 81 goblins armed with sleep poisons, likely with minimal gear. The Goblins are -5 TN in the daylight, which counters the sleep potion on the TN, but it’s still dire.
Better, a Pathfinding 10 will let them know that these are the ruins of Oakholme, and those people kept up stone watch towers around the city. If they head in that direction with something to cover their tracks (Burglary 15, Wizardry of some sort) they have a chance to recover and plan. Once there they find the tower is intact and are able to hide inside. There’s a well in the base, so they can last for a few days without coming out. That night, if they’ve been this lucky, the PCs will hear the Goblin’s searching for them, but even keeping a watch from the tower is just Burglary TN 5 for whoever is doing it… the first night. Everyone has to make a roll the next night, everyone has to roll TN 10 the fourth night. The Goblins will search the area for five days and nights before giving up so the company can flee.
Each day after the first the company will hear singing coming from the well. Education 10 to know that these are Naiads, who are tricky folk and not entirely trustworthy, if not evil. The company can parley with them and the Naiads will be playful, not reveal their location (No friends of goblins they!) but not offer to help without the PCs first winning a Lineage 15 extended contest. If they win the naiad’s help those water sprites will bid them to dive into the well, where they are spirited through the underwater streams to the Slate Hills.
Or they get there the old fashioned way – by slogging along the trail, either hoping not to be spotted by more goblins or bathed in goblin blood.